Business Models as an Unit of Analysis forStrategizing
1. Draft (30. Sep. 02)Dr. oec. Patrick StählerLindenbachstrasse 52CH-8006 ZürichPatrick.Staehler@alumni.unisg.ch
The Rise of the Business Model to Prominence
In the 1990s with the advent of IT-centered businesses the term
rose to prominence.
The rise of the term is closely related to the emergence anddiffusion of commercial activities on the internet. Internet start-ups used theterm to differentiate themselves from the incumbents and to explain theircompetitive position.The term appeared first in 1970s in computer science journals, after 1995 also inpopular business and computer magazines like
before itgained access into peer-reviewed journals focusing on the emerging field of e-commerce and e-business (cp. Timmers 1998; Kotha 1998). Today the term isfrequently used also in other management journals like Harvard Business Review(cp. Porter 2001; Magaretta 2002).In business as well as in academia the term is largely sloppily used, seldomdefined, meaning very different things and often confused with "strategy". Peopleuse the terms "strategy" and "business model" interchangeably to refer toeverything they believe gives them a competitive advantage. Typical headlines inthe business press are
Killer Business Models
(Goldberg 2000) or
Battle of theNew Business Models
(Stahl 2000).The aim of this paper is to bring clarity to the term business model and itsrelationship to strategy.
Business Models as a Unit of Analysis
In strategic management the classical unit of research are the
in which a business unit is competing and the
which is thelegal entity of most business units (Bettis 1998: 357). On the basis of these units
This paper is based on Stähler (2001).
cp. Stähler (2001:pp. 37-40) for a brief history on the diffusion of the term Businessmodel in academic journals.